Robbie Brady strike lifts Norwich out of Premier League drop zone
Published 19/03/2016 | 17:11
Robbie Brady fired Norwich out of the relegation zone with the winner at West Brom to give the Canaries fresh survival hope.
The visitors clinched a 1-0 victory at The Hawthorns to end a winless run of 11 games and move three points clear of the Barclays Premier League bottom three.
Sunderland could overtake them with a win in their crunch north-east derby with Newcastle on Sunday but Norwich sealed their first away clean sheet of the season.
The Baggies, unbeaten in their last eight home games, were poor and failed to test John Ruddy all game.
Brady's second-half winner settled a dour game to deny the Baggies the chance to break the 40-point barrier
The Republic of Ireland international was the most inventive for Norwich and signalled his intent early when he fired a 20-yard free-kick over.
Saido Berahino and Salomon Rondon were off target from distance during an even opening but the pair were mainly shackled by the excellent Timm Klose and Sebastien Bassong.
Claudio Yacob, who has scored once in 115 games for West Brom, then whistled a rasping volley wide after 20 minutes which had Ruddy struggling.
There was little between the teams, who lacked quality and urgency to make the contest interesting.
Norwich needed to be more proactive given their precarious position in the table but barely looked like making a first-half breakthrough.
Dieumerci Mbokani was forced wide too often while Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford was anonymous on his second start for the club.
It was comfortable for Albion, although the hosts hardly threatened themselves, and they needed a gift to go closest just before the break.
Gary O'Neil sloppily gave the ball to Stephane Sessegnon and the midfielder drove at the Norwich defence before shooting wide.
It was a let-off for Norwich, who came into the game without a win since January 2, b ut they came out firing in the second half to take the lead five minutes after the break.
A neat ball up to Mbokani allowed the striker to find space on the edge of the box and feed Matt Jarvis.
The winger then made a complete hash of his own attempted shot but the ball broke for Brady to fire under Ben Foster from seven yards.
There was little immediate response from the hosts and Bamford shot wide from a tight angle as Norwich grew in confidence.
Gardner's free-kick flew across the Norwich goal before Brady needed lengthy treatment after landing awkwardly.
The Baggies, unbeaten at home since December, saw plenty of the ball but continued to be met by a scrappy Norwich rearguard.
The Canaries remained calm and Jonny Howson had a chance to seal the game during six minutes of stoppage time but could not control the ball before Ben Foster gathered as the visitors held on.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Great win for @ncfc today. @NUFC v @SunderlandAFC tomorrow just got even bigger! @premierleague @BBCMOTD" - former Newcastle striker and Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer (@alanshearer)
Ben Foster: 6
Craig Dawson: 6
Gareth McAuley: 6
Jonas Olsson: 6
Jonny Evans: 6
Stephane Sessegnon: 6
Darren Fletcher: 6
Claudio Yacob: 6
Craig Gardner: 6
Saido Berahino: 6
Salomon Rondon: 6
James McClean: 6
Alex Pritchard: 6
Rickie Lambert: 6
John Ruddy: 6
Martin Olsson: 6
Sebastien Bassong: 7
Timm Klose: 7
Russell Martin: 6
Matt Jarvis: 6
Jonny Howson: 7
Gary O'Neil: 7
Robbie Brady: 7
Patrick Bamford: 6
Dieumerci Mbokani: 7
Steven Naismith: : 6
Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe: 6
Ivo Pinto: 6
The winger - finally playing in his correct position after several games at left-back - was Norwich's best player and deservedly settled the game. His crucial winner came after he gambled in the area, although his set-piece delivery was poor. It was unfortunate he had to be substituted after landing awkwardly in the second half following a challenge by Craig Dawson.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Brady broke the deadlock five minutes after the break with a scrappy goal but it gave Norwich a survival lifeline after a barren winter. The strike was completely in keeping with a poor game but he slotted home after the ball ran to him following Matt Jarvis' mis-hit. Dieumerci Mbokani deserves a lot of credit in the build-up as the big striker held the ball up to tee up Jarvis.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
West Brom - unbeaten at home since December - slipped back into their sloppy ways and they never tested John Ruddy. Saido Berahino and Salomon Rondon were kept quiet by the Norwich defence, who had not clinched an away clean sheet this season prior to the game. Albion needed a draw to reach 40 points but they will have to wait and did not deserve anything from the game.
VIEW FORM THE DUGOUT
Norwich chief Alex Neil has got his tactics spot on in recent weeks despite Norwich's struggles and managed to out fox Tony Pulis for a vital win. Mbokani and Patrick Bamford kept the Baggies defence on their toes with Jarvis and Brady roaming wide. Pulis had given himself some breathing space in the eyes of frustrated West Brom fans after recent wins but they booed the team off afterwards.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Sunderland v West Brom, Barclays Premier League (Saturday, April 2)
Norwich v Newcastle, Barclays Premier League (Saturday, April 2)